Employment With PD

Many people with Parkinson's disease (PD) are able to continue working for quite awhile after their diagnosis.  However, there are issues to consider, like if or when to tell your employer, making accommodations for your PD symptoms, your legal rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act, when to stop working, when to file for disability, etc. 

These resources will help you learn about these complex issues so you can make the right decisions for you and your family.

Downloadable Documents | Online Articles | Podcasts & Webinars

Downloadable Documents (PDF)

Employment With PD: Working it Out  

Published by the Parkinson’s Foundation, 2019

This 2-page fact sheet (PDF) discusses factors that go into deciding if and when to tell your place of employment about your Parkinson's disgnosis. Also included is a discussion on workplace accommodations and tips for job comfort and safety.

Sharing Your Parkinson’s Diagnosis at Work  

By Rachel Dolhun, MD, and Marti Fischer.  Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, October 9, 2015

This 3-page PDF is the first part of a two-part guide to help navigate the ins and outs of talking about Parkinson’s at work.  It provides practical tips and tools for crafting a personalized strategy to bring Parkinson’s into the workplace.

Talking about Parkinson’s at Work  

By Rachel Dolhun, MD, and Marti Fischer.  Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, May 26, 2017

This 5-page PDF is the second part of a two-part guide to help navigate the ins and outs of talking about Parkinson’s at work.  It recommends strategies for continuing conversation, handling common reactions and situations, and managing long-term professional relationships.

Online Articles

4 Ways Parkinson’s Disease Might Influence Your Job Performance Review

By Dr. Paul Short.  Published by LinkedIn, January 19, 2016

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be perceived as personality flaws rather than neurological change. Promotions, raises, bonuses, even continued employment may be at stake unless you share some basic information about 4 common symptoms of PD with your employer.

8 + Parkinson’s = 12 Hour Workday

Dr. Paul Short.  Published by LinkedIn, August 29, 2016

This short web page recommends that when a working person with Parkinson’s begins to notice doing their job takes an inordinate amount of time, it is time to talk with the boss about what he/she can do to help.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Overview

By Mark Rubin, JD.  Published by the Parkinson's Foundation

This article offers a brief synopsis of the protections provided by the ADA in three key areas (employment, public programs and services and private accommodations) for those who qualify as 'disabled.' Also outlined is how these protections extend to caregivers.

I’m Ill, but Who Really Needs to Know?

By Lisa Belkin.  Published by the New York Times, February 21, 2008

This is a comparison of different paths taken in disclosing chonic or long-term illness on the job, the protections offered US employees by the Americans with Disabilities Act and successes and failures of employers to follow the spirit of the law, and the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) as a useful resource.

Job Accommodation Network (JAN), Accommodation and Compliance: Parkinson’s Disease

Published by the US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

This webpage includes both the text and audio versions of the "Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees with Parkinson’s Disease" and "Effective Accommodation Practices Series: Parkinson’s Disease."

Legal / Financial / Insurance

Published by the Parkinson’s Foundation

This page gets you thinking about planning for your financial future and your employment situation with links to more detailed pages on each topic. Tips and resources for getting your financial affairs in order, your rights under the ADA, Social Security and long-term care insurance; and information to help you do some creative insurance planning.

Parkinson's and the Workplace: 5 Tips from Our Community

Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, February 14, 2017

Using personal accounts from those with PD, five tips are offered for talking about your diagnosis at work, making a plan about accommodating your workload, exploring gadgets and software to make working with your symptoms easier, dispell misconceptions about PD, and getting coworkers and your employer involved in the race for the cure.

Parkinson’s Disease and the Work Place

By Maria De León, MD.  Published by DefeatParkinson’s.com, August 10, 2016

This blog post addresses six things to consider with respect to your job after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, including whether and when to tell your boss, ways to relieve undue work stress, prepare yourself for having to quit or change jobs, whether any aspect of your PD interferes with your work -- even mood and financial planning -- both short and long term.

What to Tell Your Boss and Coworkers About Parkinson’s

By Patrick McNamara, PhD.  Published by VeryWell.com, updated January 2020

This webpage suggests learning enough about Parkinson’s disease to be able to answer questions before telling your boss or coworkers.  There are several talking points for dealing with misconceptions and concerns.  Then, understand your rights under the American’s with Disabilities Act, before asking specific questions of your company’s benefits personnel.

When and How Should I Talk to My Employer and My Coworkers?

By Jackie Hunt Christensen.  Published by the Parkinson's Foundation

This webpage discusses the advantages of telling your boss sooner than later, how to share your condition at work, and contacting the Job Accommodation Network.

Workplace Challenges

Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation

This webpage addresses whether Parkinson’s disease will affect the ability to work, protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, if and when to tell an employer and what happens financially if one can no longer work.

Podcasts & Webinars

Parkinson's Disease: Financial, Legal and Medical Planning - Tips for Care Partners

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, June 27, 2019

This 75-minute webinar presented by CPA and elder law attorney, Martin Shenkman, lays out a 12-step plan for getting your financial and legal documents in order -- and keeping them that way as financial assets, family status, medications, etc. change over time.

Talking to Your Employer About PD Series Part 1: Where to Begin?

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, June 27, 2019

This 18-minute podcast is the first of a 2-part series addressing employment considerations after a Parkinson's diagnosis. In part one, occupational therapist Julia Wood discusses information those with PD need to know about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), getting information from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), personal privacy issues, enforcing your rights and getting accommodations, and the value of engaging an occupational therapist (OT) to develop an plan for work accommodations.

Talking to Your Employer About PD Series Part 2: Disability Inclusion and Accommodation at Work

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, July 2, 2019

This 18-minute podcast is the second of a 2-part series addressing employment considerations after a Parkinson's diagnosis. In part two, Jim Sinocchi, with the Office of Disability Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase, discusses the importance of open communication with your manager and how JPMorgan Chase assimilates employees with disabilities into the work environment by focusing on talents, not disabilities. Mr. Sinocchi talks a bit about how the JPMorgan Chase model can be adopted by other work environments. Brian Baker, a former employee of JPMorgan Chase, describes his experience at Chase and gives his take on some workplace issues as a person with young onset Parkinson’s disease, including how to get job accommodations implemented in a timely manner.

Work, Money, Meaning, and Parkinson's

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, August 25, 2020

This one-hour webinar delves into questions over work issues like, should you keep working, your righs as an employee, can you afford not to work, should you tell your boss and co-workers, and more.
Download text of the panelists answers to the top five questions from this webinar.

Workplace Accommodations with a Diagnosis of Parkinson's

By APDA Massacheusettes, April 20, 2021

This 50-minute webinar is presented by a lawyer specializing in employment counseling and litigation and an occupational therapist.  Together they cover legal issues and workplace accommodations so people with Parkinson's can make informed decisions about how long they can continue to work.

Last updated August 2020 by Stanford's Parkinson's Community Outreach.